London: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned on 23 July that WTO trade talks were at “the 11th hour” and “a critical moment,” amid a stalemate at key negotiations in Geneva.
Brown said that if a deal were not struck in the next few days, it could be a long time before any progress is made.
The United States and the European Union have proposed cutting agricultural subsidies and tariffs respectively in a bid to break the deadlock, but emerging economies have responded coolly.
“There is a moment of opportunity and the reason I say that it is also the 11th hour and we are at a critical moment is that having talked for many years and having had many proposals, if we do not succeed in the next few days, then it is very difficult to imagine people returning quickly to the negotiating table to secure the outcome that is needed,” Brown told reporters.
The World Trade Organization’s Doha Development Round of negotiations was launched in 2001 and the Geneva meeting represents a critical attempt to secure agreement on a world trade deal.
Leaders have warned in particular that a WTO deal is needed before the change of US administration following elections in November.
Brown said the status quo could not remain if emerging countries are to receive the boost they need to help build their economies.
“The prize is great. It is not simply sending out a signal that protectionist sentiment is unacceptable and we are determined to keep trade open even during the most difficult of economic circumstances,” he said.
“It is also making advances in favour of the developing countries who need the support of the international community so they can use their resources and skill up their people to enable them to benefit from trading with the rest of the world,” he added.